Regional Expertise Networks
The distribution of ARRA "stimulus" funds will be through a series of about 70 Regional Extension Centers (RECs) in the United States. (Those RECs are currently being chosen based on applications in late 2009/early 2010.)
Those RECs have a mandate to assist 1000 providers with meaningful implementation of health information technology within the first year.
To do so, local community experts must be engaged by the RECs to disseminate accumulated regional knowledge and resources. This works best when local stakeholders (hospital and large clinic CEOs and CIOs, small clinic administrators, and individual physician practice administrators) are able to form a co-ordinated network, often with "user groups" oriented towards particular aspects of HIT implementation and usage.
In Seattle, a group project known as Paideia was formed to cross organizational boundaries and partner with medical-technology organizations (in this case WorldVistA and the VistA Software Alliance), public academic institutions (the University of Washington's Health Informatics and Health Information Management program), public health agencies (the U.S. Indian Health Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs), and individual healthcare practices, clinics, and hospitals (like Oroville Hospital in California).
Oriented around the open-source EHR WorldVistA, this group is an example of one type of user group that might be a subset of a larger regional co-operative umbrella.